Braille Monitor                                                August/September 2013

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Awards Presented at the 2013 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind

From the Editor: In the National Federation of the Blind we present awards only as often as they are deserved. This year two were presented during the annual meeting of the NFB board of directors, and two more were presented during the banquet. In addition the Bolotin Awards were again presented, and a complete report of those presentations appears elsewhere in this issue. Here are the reports of the educator awards, the tenBroek Award, and a special award made to Patricia Maurer:

Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award

presented by Cathy Jackson

Jackie Mushington-AndersonGood morning, fellow Federationists. If our winner will come to the stage, I would like to present this award.

This is my fourth year as the chair of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award Committee, and I am just as excited and thrilled as I was in 2010. I can tell you the selection process does not get any easier—just ask Laura Bostick, Mary Willows, and Mark Riccobono. We certainly know firsthand the quality of teachers that we have. We gather all of the background information that gives us insight into the candidates’ employment history and educational background, and we read all these letters of support from coworkers and others who know about their field—they know firsthand what good teachers they are for our students. We read the personal essay that the teacher must submit. Then we reread all of the letters of support, the background information, and the essays. Then we go over the note cards that have been covered with yellow highlighters, and we select our winner.

I think my favorite part of the application process is reviewing the personal essay. We get to know the teachers as people, and this is a very important connection we need to make in order to arrive at our selection. This year's recipient of the Distinguished Educator Award says: “My decision to teach blind students is personal.” She talks about the many experiences that molded her into the teacher that she is. She credits both the negative and the positive in helping her become the teacher that she is today. Our winner is blind. Her daughter is also blind. She's had a lifetime to learn about this thing called blindness, beginning as an infant in Jamaica.

Our winner is a teacher in the resource room at Russell Elementary School in Cobb County, Georgia. You've got to be more than a teacher to get this award. Our winner was the force behind the NFB of Maryland’s first developing the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Program, and the Maryland affiliate president, Melissa Riccobono, says, “She makes herself available to attend IEP meetings, where she can lend her expertise and make my job as an advocate easier.” I know you're sitting there saying, "Well, I thought teachers of the blind were supposed to attend IEP meetings." Well, she's attending IEP meetings for students that are not in her classroom. She is helping other students who might be struggling to achieve their goals, making sure that they have Braille and other tools they can use to become productive students.

Garrick Scott, president of the Georgia affiliate, says, "She has come in and opened up her heart to the Georgia affiliate, with her family following her lead." So, on that happy note, I am proud to present the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award to Jackie Mushington-Anderson. And along with this beautiful plaque that she's holding comes a thousand dollar check.

Now I want to read the inscription on the plaque; it says:

The National Federation of
the Blind honors

Jackie Mushington-Anderson

Distinguished Educator of Blind Children

For your skills in teaching
Braille and
Other alternative techniques of blindness,

For graciously devoting extra
time to meet
The needs of your students,

and for empowering
Your students to perform
beyond their expectations.

You champion our movement.
You strengthen our hopes.
You share our dreams.

July 3, 2013

I'd like to introduce you to Jackie Mushington-Anderson and let her say a few words to you.

Wow. Good morning, fellow Federationists. It is a privilege and honor to stand before you to accept this award. When I've been asked about my reaction when I received the call notifying me of this award, I have said that I was stunned and honored because I've been in this organization and have observed the many education leaders who have accepted this award and have seen and have experienced their teaching and their leadership. I am humbled to be put into such a category, so thank you very much.

The Blind Educator of the Year Award

presented by David Ticchi

Harriet GoThank you, President Maurer. Good morning, everyone. I want to begin by saying that it is a pleasure and a privilege to serve as chair of this committee, and I want to begin by thanking members of the committee: William Henderson of Massachusetts, Sheila Koenig and Judy Sanders of Minnesota, and Ramona Walhof of Idaho.

This award was established by the National Organization of Blind Educators to pay tribute to an outstanding blind teacher for his or her classroom performance, community service, and commitment to the National Federation of the Blind. In 1991 this became a national award because of the importance and impact of good teaching on students, faculty, community, and in fact all blind Americans. It's presented in the spirit of the educators who founded and nurtured our movement, educators like Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, Dr. Maurer, and many others who have generously given of their time to help our movement do the necessary civil rights and advocacy work that we do. That is the nature of the award.

The award is presented annually, assuming that we find a suitable recipient, and it's not an easy search, as Cathy Jackson mentioned in her presentation. It's not easy to select someone for this award, but this year we believe we have found a meritorious candidate. The winner of this year's award is Harriet Go of Pennsylvania. Harriet, please come forward.

I'll tell you a little something about Harriet, and I had to do some undercover reconnaissance work with her state president, Jim Antonacci, to get some background while keeping the secret from her and her family and friends. I hope we were successful in that endeavor. Harriet is a 1996 graduate of the St. Lucy's school in Philadelphia, where she developed terrific Braille and O&M skills. She went on to the Philadelphia public school system and graduated from Philadelphia Central High School, which is one of the more prestigious schools in the Philadelphia school system. From high school she went on to Temple University, majoring in education and special education in 2004. As part of that program she did student teaching despite some challenges. She subsequently got a job and is employed at the Richmond Elementary School in Philadelphia, working as a teacher in the resource room. She has responsibility for IEPs and administrative duties as well as teaching. While working full time, she is also earning her master’s at Walden University. As you can see, she has a very strong work ethic.        

Here are a few things about Harriet’s involvement with the NFB: she is a member of the Keystone Chapter in Pennsylvania and is active in the state affiliate. She has also been active in the BELL Program and in the Youth Slam program. She attends state and national conventions and has received state scholarships and two national scholarships, which makes her a tenBroek Fellow.

Now, before I present the plaque, I want to tell you what it says:

BLIND EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR

NATIONAL FEDERATION
OF THE BLIND

PRESENTED TO

HARRIET GO

IN RECOGNITION OF
OUTSTANDING ACCOMPLISHMENTS
IN THE TEACHING PROFESSION.

YOU ENHANCE THE PRESENT
YOU INSPIRE YOUR COLLEAGUES
YOU BUILD THE FUTURE

JULY 3, 2013

I just handed Harriet the plaque, and next I'm going to hand her an envelope containing a check for $1,000, and, Harriet, here's the microphone. Please say a few words.

Thank you, Dr. Ticchi. Thank you to the Blind Educator of the Year Award Committee. Thank you, Dr. Maurer, and thank you especially to my National Federation of the Blind family. I was so surprised to hear my name being called, and I am truly humbled and honored and blessed to receive this award. I started with the Federation about 2002, and I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I'm glad I stayed. I want especially to thank the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania because you guys believed in me from the very beginning, and I could not have done what I've done and continue to do what I'm doing if it wasn't for your support. Thank you very much, and thank you to the National Federation of the Blind for this very special award. Thank you, everybody.

The Jacobus tenBroek Award

presented by Ramona Walhof

Art SchreiberTonight it is my pleasure to present the Jacobus tenBroek Award to a man whose accomplishments are unsurpassed. Yet most of you will be surprised to learn of some of them.

Our beloved founder, Jacobus tenBroek, stood for excellence in his employment for decades as professor at the University of California at Berkeley, in his writing of five books and hundreds of articles, and in his leadership of the NFB. He was our founder, our president, and our principal leader for more than a quarter of a century. We have named this award for him both to honor our founder and to honor those who receive it. Tonight will be the thirtieth time we have presented the tenBroek Award. Our honoree has been a leader since he joined the Federation thirty years ago. Previous honorees have lived in eighteen states, but tonight we have chosen a man from a new state. He has been president of the affiliate in his state and head of the commission for the blind there, as well. He has chaired the commission’s administrative board, and he has directed the programs on a daily basis. But, like Dr. tenBroek, this gentleman has had another outstanding career, both before and after blindness, one you will enjoy knowing more about.

Art Schreiber, will you please come to the platform? Art Schreiber grew up on a farm in Ohio, received a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College in Wilmington, Pennsylvania, and continued to do graduate work at Kent State University. Later he participated in a seminar for broadcasters at Harvard University.

He began his career in journalism in the 1950s and was soon traveling with and reporting on famous people. He traveled with the John F. Kennedy for President campaign and reported on Kennedy’s election and his funeral. Art Schreiber reported on the Lyndon B. Johnson White House and on Martin Luther King Jr.’s activities as he led the civil rights movement, especially in the South during the 1960s. Perhaps the most memorable reporting Schreiber did was with the Beatles on their first tour of the United States. He spent many evenings playing Monopoly with John Lennon and George Harrison. He traveled to foreign countries and reported as he went.

In 1972 Art was one of the founders of Commuter Computer in Los Angeles and later became its CEO. It is the nation’s largest ride-sharing organization and was one of the first partnerships in the nation between the public and private sectors.

From 1960 until 1991 Art was vice president and general manager of a group of radio stations in New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque. He moved to New Mexico in 1982 to manage station KOB AM and FM, and soon afterward he lost his vision. Art Schreiber credits the National Federation of the Blind with turning his life around after he became blind.

He took some time for rehabilitation then returned to managing station KOB. When the New Mexico Commission for the Blind was created in 1986, Art Schreiber was appointed by the governor to serve on its board. He retired as manager of KOB in the early 1990s so that he could run for mayor of Albuquerque. Since he did not actually become mayor, he accepted a position as director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind and directed it for two years. In this capacity he was innovative and strong. Among many other things he established one of the first digital newspaper-reading systems for the blind. During the twenty-first century, although he was past the ordinary retirement age, Art continued to host a radio talk show until 2011.

Art has served on numerous boards and received many awards. Notable among these are: in 2009 he received the Lovola Burgess Lifetime Leadership Award from the New Mexico Conference on Aging. He was chosen New Mexico Broadcaster of the Year by the New Mexico Broadcasters Association in 1990. He received the DuPont Award presented by the Columbia School of Journalism; the National Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism Award from the American Lung Association. He served on the Board for Albuquerque Economic Development; the Better Business Bureau; the Coalition for Children; Crime Stoppers of Albuquerque; Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; Natural History Museum Board; New Mexico Chapter of the American Lung Association; New Mexico Health Net; Samaritan Counseling Center, where he was president as well as board member. Art has served on the Southwest Neuro-Rehabilitation Institute board from 1998 to the present. He was United Way of Albuquerque communication chair in 1992.

Art taught at Muskingum College in Ohio and the University of Southern California and lectured at the University of Oklahoma. At age eighty-five he is cutting back. He is still second vice president of the NFB Senior Division and chairman of the New Mexico State Rehabilitation Advisory Committee and continues to serve on the board of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind.

How could we find a more outstanding leader to honor tonight? Art Schreiber (or Uncle Arthur as he is often known), we give you the highest honor we can give a member of the NFB tonight, with respect and with love. Here is the text of the plaque presented:

JACOBUS TENBROEK AWARD
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
PRESENTED TO
ARTHUR SCHREIBER
FOR YOUR DEDICATION, SACRIFICE,
AND COMMITMENT
ON BEHALF OF THE BLIND
OF THIS NATION.
YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS MEASURED
NOT IN STEPS BUT IN MILES,
NOT BY INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCES
BUT BY YOUR IMPACT
ON THE LIVES OF THE BLIND
OF THE NATION.
WHENEVER WE HAVE ASKED,
YOU HAVE ANSWERED.
WE CALL YOU OUR COLLEAGUE WITH RESPECT.
WE CALL YOU OUR FRIEND WITH LOVE.
JULY 6, 2013

Art Schreiber: Thank you very much. I have had many, many honors, but this is the finest and the most loved that I have ever received. And I offer great thanks to the man who first told me to get in touch with Fred Schroeder, and that is David Ticchi of Massachusetts. I got in touch with Fred, and the rest—thank goodness to him and his family and Sue Benbow—they got me into the National Federation of the Blind. It truly has changed my life. I say to all of you: I am grateful, I am honored. Dr. Maurer, I am so proud to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind. Thank you all.

The Federationist’s Federationist Award

Fred Schroeder: Mr. Gashel and I would like to make a unique presentation. It is an award that has never been given before. We considered long and hard what to call this award, and finally we said it's the Federationist's Federationist Award. It is an award that is given in recognition of an individual who lives Federationism each and every day, an individual who encourages others, who inspires others, who is gentle and patient with others, an individual who through act and deed embodies the very best of what we are. The recipient of this award is many things. She is a mom with two beautiful adult children. She is the voice of encouragement that people hear when they call our National Center desperately seeking information and hope. She is the director of reference for the Jacobus tenBroek Library. She has been a full-time volunteer for the National Federation of the Blind for over twenty-five years. She is our own Patricia Maurer. [applause]

Jim Gashel: Fred and I have collaborated in introducing this Federationist's Federationist Award. I want to say a few things about Mrs. Maurer. I've known Patricia Maurer—Ms. Maurer—I've known you since 1968.

Patricia MaurerPat Maurer: I was a child.

Jim Gashel: Yes, a mere child. I was a child then, too, almost. And you know, if somebody were to ask me what it means to be a Federationist, the definition I would give would begin with two words: Patricia Maurer. I mean that. We elected Dr. Maurer to be our president in 1986. He went into this job with his eyes wide open; he knew Dr. Jernigan and what demands were placed upon the president of the National Federation of the Blind. It is a sacred trust, and, if you're the president of the National Federation of the Blind, you agree to give up a major portion of your life to serve us.

Now Mrs. Maurer didn't necessarily sign up for that, and we didn't elect her. But in 1987 she left the career she had in education and rehabilitation and became a full-time volunteer, standing by Dr. Maurer's side day after day after day and serving us, and she had a family to raise too. Together the Maurers have raised a wonderful family. Not just their own family, but our whole Federation family. So, I don't know, I'm only the secretary of the National Federation of the Blind, so I don't know if I have the power to propound motions or anything like that. But I would just say to you, that, were I able to do that—I know we designate Mrs. Maurer as the first lady of the National Federation of the Blind—but I'm going to suggest that we designate Mrs. Maurer as the first Federationist of the National Federation of the Blind, and here is Fred Schroeder to present the Federationist's Federationist Award to the First Federationist.

The First Federationistís Federationist AwardFred Schroeder: What we have—and I'm going to unveil it right now—it is a book made of glass. It is an open book, and it has an inscription on both sides of the page in print and in Braille. The right-hand page reads as follows: “Presented to Patricia Maurer in loving appreciation for your steadfast dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of the blind. July 6, 2013.” The left-hand side of the page, also in print and Braille, has the Whozit logo and the following quote from Maya Angelou; it says this: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Mrs. Maurer, here you are.

Pat Maurer: I am not the one in the Maurer family who makes the speeches. So I will simply say I am very deeply touched and honored to receive this award. I appreciate all of you and what you do to make the Federation what it is. So next week or maybe the week after, if you give me a call, I’ll be over there on the other end of the phone. I love you all very much, and I thank you very much.

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